The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the newest funding source to address climate change in developing countries. With $10 billion in pledges – and $5 billion committed to mitigation – the GCF is at a critical juncture because its Board is considering the rules and protocols it will follow when it pays for results. We believe the GCF can learn a lot from existing results-based aid agreements and the state of REDD+ finance (summarized in the forthcoming report of a CGD Working Group) which demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of pay for results approaches.
CGD Policy Blogs
There’s a growing consensus that humanitarian cash transfers can help to bridge the widening gap between needs and resources, empowering people affected by disaster and using local markets to deliver the goods and services we previously thought only aid agencies could provide.
In the world of international aid, performance payments are a hot topic. But when it comes to signing performance payment agreements, most funders have been reticent. One of the reasons is a fear of “Double Counting” – paying once for investments to achieve outcomes and a second time when the outcomes are delivered. This concern ignores the complexity of achieving development goals and the intangible assets invested by recipient countries. When funders do agree to performance agreements, they end up ignoring the burden on recipients of “Double Demanding” – disbursing when outcomes are achieved and then setting restrictions on the use of those funds. All this confusion gets in the way of designing effective aid programs.
All the hype (and criticism) over foreign aid programs that pay for results got us wondering: how are these programs being implemented and are they effective?
In recent years, donors have been making greater use of performance-based payment approaches to fund development programs. The UK Department for International Development, using the broader term being used across the UK government, has added “Payment by Results” (PbR) to the development lexicon.
The President’s Budget Request for FY 2015 proposes flat funding for international affairs but it contains priorities and policy reversals that have led at least one observer to describe it as edgy! And indeed, it is edgy on a number of fronts, including a proposal by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to pilot Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid).
It would be strange to try learning how to play music without listening to musicians. Similarly, learning about results-based aid programs requires listening to people who design and implement them. That is just what we did last week in a set of workshops about implementing programs that pay for results – programs which apply some or all of the principles that we’ve discussed here at the Center as Cash on Delivery Aid. As a result of discussing real experiences, we discovered that some of the challenges are quite different than we had anticipated while a number of common concerns have simply failed to materialize.
Politicians and agency officials are always morally indignant when it comes to corruption in foreign aid, pointing to elaborate procedures and investigative offices to prove that they are “tough” and calling for zero tolerance (most recently here and here). However, for most governments and agencies, corruption is only a problem when it is discovered. That is when it becomes an obstacle to disbursing funds and keeping business moving.